Giving birth could slow MS

Having children could slow down the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS), research suggested today.

The disease, which affects around 100,000 people in the UK, is around twice as common in women as men and mostly affects females of childbearing age.

Previous studies on the long-term effects of childbirth on MS have produced mixed results, making it difficult to draw conclusions.

In the short term, women have been found to experience fewer relapses while pregnant, especially in the final 12 weeks of pregnancy.

However, they have also been found to suffer more relapses in the first three months of their child's life.

In the latest study, 330 women were split into four groups according to whether they had children only after developing MS, had them only before developing MS, had children either before or after developing symptoms or had no children at all.

All the groups were then assessed against the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS), which measures progression of MS.

After around 18 years, 55 per cent of women had reached EDSS 6, which means they required an aid such as a cane or crutch to walk about 100 metres, with or without resting.

Women having children after onset of MS were 39% less likely to have progressed to EDSS 6 than those who never had children, the results showed.

Meanwhile, those who gave birth before or after their first symptoms were 34 per cent less likely to have developed to EDSS 6.

The researchers, from the Netherlands and Belgium, said: "The present study of 330 women with a mean follow-up of 18 years after disease onset suggests that patients who deliver one or more children after disease onset may have a more benign disease course as expressed by either the time to reach EDSS 6 from onset of disease or the age at which EDSS 6 is reached compared with those who had no children after disease onset.

"Moreover, women who gave birth at any point in time had less disability progression than those who never had children."

All the women had their first MS symptoms between the ages of 22 and 38. Even when age was taken into account, the researchers found similar results for the groups of women.

The research was published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

    £6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

    £12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

    Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

    £32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

    Day In a Page

    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing
    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower